Haridwar, literally means 'The gateway to the Gods'. It's the place where the river Ganga descends to the plain. A Gateway to the four pilgrimage of Uttarakhand, Haridwar is variously mentioned as Mayapuri, Gangadwar, Mokhsadwar in the ancient Hindu scriptures and epics. A major Shaktipeeth from time immemorial, the place is believed to have both sanctified by the powerful trinity of Hindu mythology - Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. This is why the place has been a ever-refreshing mystic venue for the purification of the mind, body and soul. The Kumbha Mela, happening once every 12 years and the Ardha Kumbha Mela (Coming once every six years) are big draws. Haridwar is very much associated with the legends in Hindu philosophy. In order to purge the earth of its sins, it is said the a king named Bhagirath brought river Ganga from heaven to earth.
Haridwar is also very popular among both foreign and indigenous tourists because of the different types of alternative treatment facility that it provides. Interestingly enough more and more people are turning towards Ayurveda and Yoga. In Haridwar, you will get some excellent Ayurveda and Yoga institute. The city of Haridwar is only 10 km away from Rajaji National Park. If you are a wildlife lover or a die-hard adventure maniac, make sure that you visit this wonderful place. Situated in the state of uttarakhand, the city is easily accessible by air, road and rail. Haridwar is only 214 km from Delhi and 386 km from Agra. If you wish to journey by car, it will not take more than just a few hours to reach here. Haridwar also has a railway station and is well connected by rail. The nearest airport is just 35 km away at Dehradun. If you are planning to spend a vacation away from the din and bustle of daily life, this is the place where you should be.
Haridwar located in the foothills of the Himalayas, represents the point where the Ganga reaches the plains. Haridwar is an ancient pilgrimage site, held in reverence for centuries. The Chinese pilgrim Hyuen Tsang who visited India in the first millennium CE, describes Haridwar as Mayura, on the eastern banks of the Ganges. Several temples and ashrams dot this town and a visit to Haridwar is like stepping into a totally different world. Legend has it that Bhagiratha, brought the Ganges into the earth, and into this point where his ancestors were burnt to ashes by the curse of the sage Kapila. Kapilastaan, a spot in Haridwar is pointed to as Kapila's hermitage. Haridwar was once known as Gangadwara. Haridwar (and Rishikesh) represents the gateway to the Himalayan pilgrimage shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath. The pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrines begins only when the sun reaches the zodiac sign of Aries. Haridwar is also the site of celebration of the Kumbha Mela, once in twelve years, when Jupiter transits to the zodiac sign of Aquarius. The five sacred bathing spots in Haridwar are Gangadwara, Kankhal, Nila Parvata, Bilwa Theertha and Kusavarta. The main ghat at Haridwar is known as Hari-ki-Pairi (known for a footprint of Vishnu on a stone in a wall). Nearby is the Gangadwara temple, the most important of the several temples that dot this town.
Hari ki pauri ghat was built by King Vikramaditya to commemorate the descending of Ganga after years of difficult prayers and fasting done by his ancestor Bhagirathi. Lord Vishnu is believed to have left his foot prints on a rock at this ghat. Everyday at twilight the Har ki pauri ghat comes to life with singing prayers and lit up lamps along the Ganges where people in hundreds and thousands view this mesmerizing and cleansing ritual. It is believed that the one who bathes at Har ki pauri gets rid of all sins and completely cleanses their soul. Floral tributes and lit up diyas floating on the Ganges is the most enchanting sight one gets at this ghat.
Haridwar, is one of the most religious town in Uttarakhand and it is this very holy town that hosts the famous 'Maha Aarti', every evening. The most pious ghats of Ganges in Uttarakhand is Harki Pauri, an important bathing ghat. This also the venue of the famous Kumbh Mela, that is held once in twelve years. During this festival an estimated 45 million people converge here to bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges as part of a purification ritual. This scared ghat was constructed in the 1st century BC and has webs of legends associated with it. The most important is the one that claims that a person who takes dips here, is freed of all his previous life and gets moksha (Nirvana). The doted temples, shops hawking religious blings and the various clay pots floating on the rivers completes the spiritual picture of Haridwar.
The Colophon of Haridwar - Maha Aarti : To see the most breathtaking sight in Haridawar, come to the Harki pauri ghat in the evening, when the daily ritual of 'Maha Aarti' takes place. When the sun goes down, the most awaited activity of the evening Aart takes places on the ghat. Ganges is decorated as a newly wedded bride and glows with fluorescence of the thousands and millions of diyas and marigold petals. The sir seems to be filled with the rhythmic chants of the mantras and incense. Thousands of devotees sway in tempo and the religious fervency depicted is unimaginable. This activity goes son for six minutes after which the pilgrims scramble madly for the 'prasad' (holy offering).
One of the most visited temples in Haridwar, Mansa Devi Mandir occupies a place on top of the Shivalik hills. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mansa Devi, believed to fulfill the wishes of those who visit here. It is a tradition with the devotees to tie sacred threads around the tree that stands within the premises of the Mansa Devi temple. From the temple, one can have heart stirring views of the Haridwar town. Along with Chandi Devi temple and the Maya Devi temple, it completes the Siddhapeeth Triangle.
Situated on the top of Neel Parvat, in Haridwar, Chandi Devi Temple is one of the most famous temples of India. Considered to be one of the Shaktipeeths of North India, this place is of great religious significance. It is said to have the power to fulfill the wishes of devotees and this is why it is also known as Siddhpeetha. As per a legend associated with the temple, Goddess Chandika Devi rested on at Neel Parvat, for a short while, after slayings Demon kings - Shumbh and Nishumbha. The temple was built to welcome her back. The presiding deity of this temple is 'Chandi Devi', a form of Shakti. The morning aarti at the temple begins at 5.30 in the morning. Right now, Chandi Devi Temple is managed by the Mahants. However, it is in the process of forming a trust for its management. Chandi Devi Temple was built by the reigning king of Kashmir - Suchat Singh, in 1929.
However, the main idol at the temple is said to have been installed by Adi Shankaracharya, one of the greatest Hindu priests, in the 8th century. The temple is open throughout the year for the devotees, from 6 am to 8 pm, on a normal day. You can get auto rickshaw, cycle rickshaw, tongas and taxis for reaching Chandi Devi temple, from any part of Haridwar. You can also opt for the trekking-route, of about 3 km, from Chandighat. Another mode of reaching the main shrine is through the cable car, which is less time taking as well as adventurous. It hardly takes 20-25 minutes to reach the holy shrine this way. Pilgrims visit this temple throughout the year to seek the holy blessings of Goddess Chandi. The temple of Anjana Devi, the mother of Lord Hanuman is merely 200 meter from this temple.
Dedicated to goddess Maya Devi, the temple is a major attraction for all visitors to Haridwar. The temple is counted as one of the shaktipithas in India. According to the Hindu mythology, it is the place where the heart and navel of goddess Sati fell down, while Lord Shiva was carrying her burnt body. Numerous festivals are held at the Maya Devi temple in keeping with the customs and traditions.
Daksha Mahadev temple is one of the most ancient temples of Lord Shiva, situated in Kankhal. The temple is approximately 4 km away from the main township of Haridwar. Mythologies relate this temple to Daksha Yagya. According to the legends, Goddess Sati's father Daksha Prajapati performed a yagna, a holy ritual, at this place, but did not invite Lord Shiva, his son-in-law. Sati felt insulted by his father's behavior and sacrificed her life in the fire of the yagna.
It is said that it was on the site of the yagna, and Sati's sacrifice, that Daksha Mahadev temple was later built. There is a pit within the grounds of the temple which marks the exact location of the sacrificial fire.
One of the five most Holy places in Haridwar, the temple stands as a tribute to the sacrifice of Sati Mata. Also known as Shri Daksheshwar Temple, it was initially built by Queen Dhankaur, in 1810 AD. It was, however, reconstructed in 1962. The holy Shiv idol, in phallic form, is situated at the centre of Shri Daksheshwar Temple. The temple is visited by thousands of devotees in August, also known as the holy month of Sawan, the month of Lord Shiva in the Hindu calendar. Special rituals are also performed here on the Shivratri, the marriage day of Shiva and Shakti. Close to this temple are two other holy places, Daksha Ghat and Nileshwar Mahadev Temple.
It is situated along the Haridwar-Rishikesh road. According to Hindu Mythology, Sapt Rishi Ashram is regarded as the place where the seven great sages, or Sapt-Rishis, Kashyap, Vashisht, Atri, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja and Gautam meditated. It is said that the Ganges split herself into seven streams, here only, so that the sages would not be disturbed by her flow. Thus, this place is also known as the Sapt Sarovar or Saptrishi Kund. The streams reunite further and flow as a beautiful channel called Neel Dhara while entering Haridwar.
The mythological site is located in the historical town of Kankhal, at 6 km from the town of Haridwar. The Parad Shivling remains enshrined inside the premises of the Harihar Ashram in Kankhal. Weighing 150 kg, the shivling is major pilgrimage site for Shaivites. Devotees worship the shivling to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
By Air : The airport of Dehradun is the nearest from Haridwar. It is known by the name of Jolly Grant Airport and is located approximately 35 km away from the holy city. Though there are not a large number of airlines that operate from New Delhi to Dehradun, you will easily get a Simplifly Deccan flight, which operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
By Rail : Haridwar has a railway station of its own, connected with all the major cities of India. Many trains coming from Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Kolkata, etc halt here and bring in the large rush of visitors who come to take a bath in the waters of the holy Ganges. There are a large number of trains available for reaching Haridwar from New Delhi, with the ones to Dehradun also making a stoppage here.
By Road : Haridwar, with it good road network, is easily accessible from the key cities in India. The city is around 215 km from New Delhi and since the National Highway passes through it, reaching there by road is not at all a problem. Buses and taxis are easily available to and from the major cities like Delhi, Dehradun, Agra, Lucknow, Jaipur, etc.
Places to visit in Rishikesh
The temple is one of the most revered holy shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a prominent Hindu pilgrimage site. It is surrounded by dense forests and is adjacent to the mountain ranges of Nar-Narayan. It is enveloped between the valleys of Manikoot, Brahmakoot, and Vishnukoot and is located at the confluence of the rivers Pankaja and Madhumati.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is a sacred and famous temple located at 7 km from Haridwar Railway Station. Scenically situated on a hill at a height of 1330 mtrs, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is a one of the most popular temples of Lord Shiva. A famous pilgrimage near Rishikesh, the temple lies above Swargashram adjacent to Nar Narayan mountain range.
Laxman Jhula in Rishikesh is one of the major tourist attractions for those who visit Rishikesh. Basically, it is a hanging bridge across river Ganga, around 450 ft long and 70 ft above the river. In early times, the jhula was a hanging jute bridge, but later it was transformed into an Iron suspension bridge. The bridge is used as a path to visit Swarg Ashram and Gita Bhavan. Also, one should not miss the great Terah Manzil; a thirteen story temple in close proximity to Laxman Jhula.
Settled approximately 8km away from the main city of Rishikesh, the hanging bridge connects borders of Tehri and Pauri. A long walk on the bridge offers amazing scenic views of serene surroundings, ashrams and temples.
Named after the younger brother of Lord Sri Ram, Laxman, the hanging bridge has a story behind. According to Hindu mythology, it was this place where Laxman crossed holy river Ganga, where Laxman Jhula is put-up. Owing to such beliefs, the jhula is regarded as one of the blessed locations in Rishikesh and is visited by large number of tourists.